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A Natural History of Quiet Waters: Swamps and Wetlands of the Mid-Atlantic Coast


A Natural History of Quiet Waters: Swamps and Wetlands of the Mid-Atlantic Coast Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Although swamps today are recognized as one of the richest andmost prolific natural systems on Earth, they have long held a mysterious and tenuousplace in America's history and culture. Ernest Hemingway equated them with madnessand death in Big Two-hearted River. We have images of HumphreyBogart covered with leeches while slogging through a swamp in the filmThe African Queen. In our culture, swamps havebeen associated with mystery and evil, and we spent generations draining, filling, and otherwise destroying them. Indeed, in the four centuries since the Europeancolonists arrived, we have lost more than half of the forested wetlands that werenative to America.

Swamps have until now receivedlittle attention, despite recent efforts to protect them. With ANatural History of Quiet Waters: Swamps and Wetlands of the Mid-AtlanticCoast, Curtis Badger takes us on a personalized trip to the swamp, providing an insightful look at the nature of these special places, and arguingpersuasively that these natural systems should be protected, notdestroyed.

Using such locations as the PocomokeRiver and the Great Dismal Swamp as exemplars of swamps in general, Badger examinesthe natural history of wetlands, and also relates the role they have played in thehistory and culture of the mid-Atlantic coast. A great iron furnace and itssurrounding village once stood in a cypress swamp along Nassawango Creek inMaryland. The Great Dismal was a safe haven for runaway slaves, and it has been thesource of many ghostly tales and legends.

Although swamps have for centuries been cast in a negative light, they arewonderfully productive places, a refuge for migrating songbirds, insects, fish, animals, and rare plants. Swamps and wetlands provide us with clean water, theyprotect uplands from flooding, and their waters serve as a spawning ground forvaluable fish and shellfish. And, Badger writes, they provide us with an island offorested wilderness, a place where one can launch a canoe and temporarily escape theirritations of the modern world.

Notwithstandingthe government's goal of no net loss of wetlands, swamps arestill being drained, filled, and paved over each year. With this book, Badgerinvites us to appreciate these special places and the natural communities theysupport.

Book News Annotation:

Badger presents a natural and human history of the swamps and wetlands of the mid-Atlantic coast, with a focus on the Pocomoke River and the Great Dismal Swamp. He guides readers through their ecology and nature, including plants, birds, and dragonflies, and discusses the role swamps have played in history and culture. No index or bibliography is provided. Badger is the author of Virginia's Wild Side, The Wild Coast, and A Naturalist's Guide to the Virginia Coast. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Product Details

Badger, Curtis J.
University of Virginia Press
Badger, Curtis
Life Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems
United States - State & Local - Middle Atlantic
Natural history
Wetlands - Middle Atlantic States
Natural history -- Middle Atlantic States.
Environmental Studies-Environment
Publication Date:
8.42x5.84x.69 in. .71 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Botany » Wetlands
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » Environment
Science and Mathematics » Environmental Studies » General
Science and Mathematics » Nature Studies » General

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Product details 143 pages University of Virginia Press - English 9780813926186 Reviews:
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